Category Archives: Artwork

Wreaths for the Love of Dogs

Janice and Vinnie, a pitbull from the pound. Vinnie had scars all over his body, but he just wants lovin' as you can see. He has a great home now where no one will ever hurt him again. Pitbulls are like all dogs---they want love and companionship.

Janice is my friend and animal-rescue partner in crime (we keep it as legal as allowable by our own laws). She specializes in pitbulls and is an expert dog trainer. We both landed in Bisbee around the same time and met while volunteering. We worked the pound together for a couple years until we couldn’t take it anymore and suffered simultaneous meltdowns. We’ve gone halves on a lot of heartbreak, but bliss too. Animal rescue is extremely emotional and there is an enormous amount of infighting. The volunteers can be as feral as the animals we’re trying to protect. But you have to be obsessive to get it done—passion equals progress. ( https://findanoutlet.wordpress.com/2010/07/24/passionately-provoked-2/ )

We made these wreaths to raise a little cash to help us offset some of our expenses. We started too late in the year though, and we’re busy, and excuses excuses—we didn’t plan this project out very well. We’ve vowed to start earlier next year, build up an inventory, and put some effort into marketing. We want to be able to ship the wreaths as well as sell them locally, make custom-themed wreaths, take orders, etc.

We combed thrift shops for inexpensive and/or unusual decorations and I asked my housecleaning customers if they maybe had a little something to donate. We also bought some ornaments new because it’s simply not possible to ignore the glittering holiday buffets offered in discount stores when your brain is exploding with ideas.  I may not celebrate Christmas but I loved making these wreaths.

As any crafter (or artist, or writer) knows, the need to physically construct your visualization becomes an obsession. Patterns, designs, and whorls of color gyrate in the space behind your eyes in a private kaleidoscopic spectacle. These handcrafted, lovingly-created wreaths are priced around $50. The wreaths are not made with live greens, so if you take care of them they should last forever. Please write me with questions, comments, or feedback. I’m not very good at marketing.

Angel wreath---sold

Yucca and star-thistle wreath (sold but I made two of them so I have another). We collected beautiful local dried flowers, pods, and seeds.

Chili peppers and cowboy boots wreath (sold)

Purple wreath

Vine wreath with red bow (sold)

Teddy bear wreath

Bird nests wreath

Stuffed animal wreath

Berry top wreath

Appleheads—Fanciful Fall Folk Art

In October I carve appleheads. Appleheads are a pleasant way to spend an autumn afternoon, and help release creative energy in a mischievous way. Once made they will reach their peak after a few weeks, then they will slowly collapse inwards. It takes a long time, but it will happen—unless you find a way to permanently preserve them, suggestions for which I would be grateful.

Start with the biggest apples you can find, because they shrink quite a bit.

Peel the apple. Poke a sharp stick or pencil down the center, then remove. Tie a string to the stick and push through. Tie the bottom of the string to a little piece of wood.

Soak the applehead in lemon juice and salt for a few minutes to help prevent it from turning brown. Using whatever tools you have around, carve features into the apples. I like x-acto knives, nutpicks, other small blades.

Day 6. After you've finished carving the apples and they are well-coated with lemon juice, hang up in a dry place. Each day the features you cut into the apple will change dramatically as the fruit becomes desiccated.

Day 10

Day 12. When you like the way the faces look, you can decorate them. I like to use doll hair, bits of fabric, beads, etc. You can buy dolls for a quarter at a thrift shop and cut the hair off.

This is the stage where I would like them to stop shrinking!

Have fun, and feel free to ask questions!

Bragging Rights

Today is the official release day of the New Oxford American Dictionary 3rd edition.  I can’t describe it better than OUP’s website:

As Oxford’s flagship American dictionary, the New Oxford American Dictionary sets the standard of excellence for lexicography in this country. With more than 350,000 words, phrases, and senses, hundreds of explanatory notes, and more than a thousand illustrations, this dictionary provides the most comprehensive and accurate coverage of American English available.

I am proud to have worked on the first edition, and this one, the third. I was art editor and editorial assistant for the first edition and contracted out 1200 illustrations by several amazing artists back in Connecticut—and many of the illustrations, including some new ones,  are mine. There’s no room in dictionary illustration for cheating or sentiment. They must be absolutely accurate. To draw dictionary illustrations an artist must seek out excellent references on the subject, and that’s often not easy. The pictures don’t fall out of our heads.

No one who loves and uses dictionaries would believe how much work goes into creating one—every tiny revision has consequences. Thousands of new words are assessed, others deleted. There are hundreds of editorial tasks to be done including a huge proofreading effort by a stable of some of the most experienced dictionary proofreaders in the US, including yours truly! I have never written about working on dictionaries before so it’s tumbling out! I think the main point about dictionary work is this: anything included must be true. Think of the thousands of subjects a dictionary covers—making sure every definition is the truth requires an enormous amount of research but it’s an obligation taken very seriously. And deadline time is as crazy as in any job with late nights, too much coffee, and blurry eyes for all involved.

This dictionary is also available as an online subscription.

Hand-painted Furniture by Debra Argosy

I went through an obsession with painted furniture, boxes, candlesticks, trinkets, clay pieces—whatever struck me as being paintable. I love the entire process—from scavenging some sad old piece of furniture and shoring it up, then making it smooth and applying the paint in unusual ways. Each piece takes quite a bit of time and I never found the right market for them. Here are some samples. These pieces are for sale–prices on request but make an offer…it’s more important to me that my children go to good homes than it is to hold out for a higher price.

small table with faux marble finish
closeup view
end table with drawer, faux marble finish
closeup view
green and beige crackle-finish coffee table
crackle table closeup
small black and white marble faux finish table
custom-painted vanity by Debra
closeup of painted vanity

Recent Dictionary Illustrations

I do freelance editorial work and illustrations for Oxford University Press (OUP), whom I was employed by back east through the  ’90s. Our US Dictionaries Department was closed after 9/11 and all employees but one were let go.  After an eight-year hiatus, I am fortunate to be working for them again.

OUP’s flagship American dictionary is the New Oxford American Dictionary, known as NOAD. I am proud to have contributed to the first edition (2001) as art editor, proofreader, and editorial assistant—now I’m excited to be a part of the third edition, available any day now.

They requested that the new illustrations represent the American southwest, a category that could be enlarged. I was more than happy to oblige. Above all else, dictionary illustrations must be accurate. For flexibility and forgiveness I use a .005 Micron drawing pen and an x-acto knife on coated stock. Here are a few samples…

Gambel’s quail by Debra Argosy © 2010 Oxford University Press
Greater roadrunner by Debra Argosy © 2010 Oxford University Press
Cholla cactus by Debra Argosy © 2010 Oxford University Press

Cactus wren on cholla branch by Debra Argosy © 2010 Oxford University Press


Stolen Painting

Connecticut Riverbank 24 x 36 © Debra Argosy

This painting was stolen from the Seamen’s Inne, in Mystic, Connecticut where it was on loan around 1993. The owners of the restaurant at the time were very uncooperative in helping me track it down—they wouldn’t even speak to me on the phone.

I didn’t even know it was missing. I had a buyer for it and when I called to get it back I learned it was gone. Never saw it again.

Exploited for Profit!

Back in the ’90s I was very serious about marketing my art. I sold the rights to several of my paintings to large companies who publish prints and posters. They were supposed to pay royalties, but that didn’t happen. The companies apparently went out of business and my prints were sold to other companies.  These two pictures below have been mass-produced and sold online—and I had nothing to do with it:

http://www.ioffer.com/i/Deborah-Argosy-Sunflowers-Art-Poster-Print-16-X-20–84711066

http://www.grandmas-attic.com/floral_still_life7.html

Sunflowers poster by Debra Argosy sold on Amazon and other dealers on Internet

Country Made by Debra Argosy sold on Internet

I hate the word “exploited,” it sounds so whiny—but that’s often what happens to artists. I mean it’s cool to see my prints being sold online, but hey! I’m here, a real person, and a poor one!

I have plenty of prints available, so if you order from me instead of these websites, you’ll get one personally autographed by the artist!

Artwork by Debra Argosy

Here are some samples of my artwork—click for larger image. Some are sold, some are for sale, some are available as prints, some as blank-inside cards. Please contact me for further info. Update April 2015: I’m giving some original artwork away, click here.

Self portrait, watercolor and ink on paper © Debra Argosy  NFS

Homegrown 19 x 24 watercolor on board © Debra Argosy. Sold.

Sunflowers, original watercolor © Debra Argosy, blank-inside cards available  NFS

The House that Was  12 x 23 watercolor on paper © Debra Argosy

The House that Was 12 x 23 watercolor on paper © Debra Argosy. $500

Windscape   14 x 17 watercolor on paper © Debra Argosy

Windscape 14 x 17 watercolor on paper © Debra Argosy  $500

And Miles to Go Before I Sleep   10 x 12 watercolor on paper © Debra Argosy

And Miles to Go Before I Sleep 10 x 12 watercolor on paper © Debra Argosy  NFS

Boxcar, Retired, Essex Steam Train Graveyard  15 x 19 watercolor on paper © Debra Argosy

Boxcar, Retired, Essex Steam Train Graveyard 15 x 19 watercolor on paper © Debra Argosy   NFS

Ancient One, Essex Steam Train Graveyard  25 x 18 watercolor on paper © Debra Argosy

Ancient One, Essex Steam Train Graveyard 25 x 18 watercolor on paper © Debra Argosy  NFS

Indian Corn  16 x 20 watercolor on paper © Debra Argosy. Sold.

Beech in Winter, 10 x 13 watercolor on paper © Debra Argosy  $300

Lily Garden, 10 x 12 original watercolor © Debra Argosy

Winterlake, original watercolor © Debra Argosy  NFS

November, watercolor on paper © Debra Argosy  NFS

Cardinal Mates, original watercolor © Debra Argosy

Farmhouse Doorway, original watercolor © Debra Argosy. Sold.

Connecticut Riverbank, orig. watercolor © Debra Argosy. This painting was stolen from the Seamen’s Inne in Mystic, Connecticut where it was on loan around 1993. The owners of the restaurant at the time were very uncooperative in helping me track it down—they wouldn’t even speak to me on the phone. I didn’t even know it was missing. I had a buyer for it and when I called to get it back I learned it was gone. It was a large painting, 24 x 36. Haven’t seen it since.

Chickadee, original watercolor © Debra Argosy. Sold.

Daffodils, original watercolor © Debra Argosy, blank-inside cards available

Schoodic Point, Maine, original watercolor © Debra Argosy  NFS

Old Friend, original watercolor © Debra Argosy. Sold.

Quitting Time, original watercolor © Debra Argosy. Sold.

Magnolias, original watercolor © Debra Argosy. Sold.

Iris Garden, original watercolor © Debra Argosy. Sold, but blank-inside cards available

Still Life with Artichoke, original watercolor © Debra Argosy. Sold.

Still Life with Pumpkin, 10 x 13 original watercolor © Debra Argosy

Still Life with Asparagus, original watercolor © Debra Argosy. Sold.

Milkweed Pods, original watercolor © Debra Argosy. Sold.

Geese at the Gate, original watercolor © Debra Argosy. Sold.

Sunflowers poster by Debra Argosy sold on Amazon and other dealers on Internet. 16 x 20. Prints available, and the original.

Country Made (left side) by Debra Argosy, commissioned by a art print publisher. This painting and the one below were designed to hang next to each other (but they don’t have to be). Prints and the original available. 16 x 20.

Country Made (right side) by Debra Argosy, commissioned by an art print publisher. This painting and the one above were designed to be hang next to each other (but they don’t have to). Prints and the original are available. 16 x 20

View from Clawson Road, Bisbee, orig. watercolor © Debra Argosy. Prints available.

View from Clawson Road, Bisbee,AZ.  8 x 10 watercolor on paper © Debra Argosy. Prints available.

Miner's shack, Bisbee. Original watercolor © Debra Argosy

Miner’s Shack, Bisbee AZ. 9 x 12 watercolor on paper © Debra Argosy. $300

Bisbee Wildflowers, orig. watercolor © Debra Argosy. Prints available.

Bisbee Wildflowers, 5 x 8 watercolor on paper © Debra Argosy. Prints available.

Yucca in Fall, Bisbee AZ. Orig. watercolor © Debra Argosy. Prints available.

Yucca in Fall, Bisbee AZ  5 x 5 watercolor on paper © Debra Argosy. Prints available.

Top of Evans St., Bisbee

Top of Evans Street, Bisbee, AZ  graphite on paper © Debra Argosy. Prints available.

OK Street, Bisbee AZ, orig. graphite drawing © Debra Argosy. Prints available.

OK Street, Bisbee AZ, orig. graphite drawing © Debra Argosy. Prints available.

High Street, Bisbee, AZ  8 x 10 graphite on paper Prints available.

High Street, Bisbee, AZ 8 x 10 graphite on paper Prints available.